|| "I will lead the blind by ways
they have not known,|
Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
And make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
But those who trust in idols, who say to images,
'You are our gods', will be turned back in utter shame."
"The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of
wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and justice. Every increase
in needs tends to increase ones dependence on outside forces over
which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential
fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction
in those tensions which are the ultimate cause of strife and war."
Sunday 1st February
Lord, give us a deeper understanding of your purposes, that we may
be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail,
nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. Help us to fix
our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame. Amen.
Monday 2nd February
According to Lester R. Brown of the Washington-based Earth Policy
Institute, the water table in the North China Plain, which produces
half of China's wheat and a third of its rice, is falling by 3-10
feet a year. In the last five years the Chinese grain harvest has
dropped by 66 million tons, an amount in excess of Canada's total
annual grain harvest. China has reserves of grain for one more year,
after which it will have to turn to the world market. Last year, the
world's grain harvest fell short of consumption by a record 92 million
tons, reducing world grain stocks to their lowest level in thirty
years. Price rises are inevitable.
Tuesday 3rd February
To produce one ton of grain requires 1,000 tones of water. This helps
to explain why 70% of all water use is for irrigation of crops. The
tripling of global water demand over the last fifty years, combined
with the advent of diesel- and electrically-driven pumps, has led
to excessive over-pumping of aquifers. As a result, more than half
the world's people now live in countries where water tables are falling
and wells are going dry. Among these countries are China, India and
the USA, which, between them, provide half the world's grain harvest.
Wednesday 4th February
In 1997 the Yellow River, China's second biggest river, failed to
reach the sea for 226 days. Last June, the Government announced that
the river had reached its lowest level for half a century, leaving
12% of Chinese people short of water. Every year, 2,500 square kilometers
of China turns into a desert, while dust storms occur ever more frequently.
Most Chinese scientists blame rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall.
Another factor is the retreat of glaciers in the mountains forming
the catchment area of major Chinese rivers.
Thursday 5th February
According to Phil Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit at the
University of East Anglia, June to August 2003 were the warmest months
ever recorded in Western and Central Europe. In the UK the temperature
exceeded 100oF. for the first time. Satellite data show that the Earth
has lost 10% of its snow cover since 1960 and that lakes and rivers
in the northern hemisphere remain frozen for two weeks less than a
century ago. The Arctic sea ice has thinned by 40% since the 1950s.
The World Health Organisation estimates that the spread of diseases,
such as malaria, due to global warming may have caused 5 million deaths.
Yet so far, the increase in global temperatures has been a mere 0.60C.
Friday 6th February
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, designed to reduce global warming, cannot
officially come into force until it is ratified by either the USA
or Russia. The EU is theoretically committed to cutting greenhouse
gas emissions by 8% from 1990 levels. Yet only Britain and Sweden
are on target to achieve this: all other EU countries are failing.
The USA, which emits nearly 25% of the world's carbon emissions, will
be 30% off the Kyoto target by 2010. In December, the chairman of
its Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee said: "I'm
becoming more and more convinced . . . that global warming is the
greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people and the world."
Saturday 7th February
Coal-fired power stations supply 34% of the world's electricity, but
cause 39% of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. World governments
currently give $300 billion a year in subsidies for the development
of new fossil fuel projects. World Bank loans for fossil fuel projects
since 1992 will have contributed 38 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
to the Earth's atmosphere.
Stop press: A new report , commissioned by the World Bank, called
the "Extractive Industries Review" recommends that the Bank
stops financing coal and oil projects in developing countries and
increases funding for renewable energy projects. The Bank will decide
by the end of March whether to adopt the recommendations. The report
can be viewed on www.eireview.org
Sunday 8th February
Father, forgive us for the folly, blindness and greed with which we
have pursued material gains, oblivious to the grievous cost to your
creation. Help us to seek to pursue a vision of your world which husbands
all its resources, so that humankind can live together at peace without
damaging the world that you have given us to enjoy.
Monday 9th February
Population is a subject that mainstream environmental organizations
tend to ignore, yet environmental refugees are a growing feature of
the 21st century. 70% of the yearly increase in Britain's population
is accounted for by immigration. The Optimum Population Trust calls
for the stabilization of the UK population at current levels and for
much greater efforts by the governments of rich countries to support
economic and educational development in poorer countries along with
funding for reproductive services. For more information visit www.optimumpopulation.org
Tuesday 10th February
The Government has recently announced stringent limits on future carbon
emissions by industry. These will require an 8% reduction between
2001 and 2008 and a bigger reduction between 2008 and 2012. Between
1500 and 2000 installations will be affected, including power stations,
oil refineries, coke ovens, metal processing plants, iron and steel
factories and cement works. This is to bring us nearer our national
target of a 20% reduction in carbon emissions between 1990 and 2010,
and will above all provide a powerful boost to the development of
low-carbon technologies and services, especially renewable energy.
Wednesday 11th February
Last June nineteen leading banks signed the Equator Principles, which
commit them to the social and environmental policies of the World
Bank's private arm. Yet Barclays, one of the signatories, is financing
a huge hydropower project in Iceland which breaches several of the
Principles, while at least eight of the signatory banks are supporting
the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project, which breaches five
of the Principles on at least 127 counts. For details of bank involvement
Thursday 12th February
In 2002 the Government's Competition Commission, responding to evidence
that large supermarkets were operating against the public interest,
introduced an agreed Code of Practice. Now an alliance of NGOs has
shown the Code to be ineffective and is calling for legal sanctions
against breaches. The Competition Commission had found that terms
negotiated by big supermarkets with their suppliers gave them a significant
advantage over smaller stores and would lead to some of them going
out of business. Between 1997 and 2002 more than 13,000 stores closed,
including butchers, bakers, fishmongers and newsagents, leaving communities
without accessible local shops and increasing the rise in carbon emissions
by forcing shoppers to drive longer distances to buy essentials.
A review of the Code was announced over a year ago, yet nothing has
emerged. For details visit www.foe.org.uk/resource/briefings/farmers_supermarket_code
Friday 13th February
A three-day conference on Indigenous Knowledge and Bioprospecting
is being held at Macquarrie University, Sydney, Australia. It is intended
for indigenous peoples, scientists and lawmakers, and will consider
the protection of indigenous rights, valuing traditional ecological
knowledge and enhancing biocultural diversity. For details visit www.plant-talk.org/conferences
Saturday 14th February
Brazil's Atlantic Forest - the most endangered rainforest in the world
- has been voted legal protection by the Brazilian Congress after
eleven years of campaigning. Only 7% of the original forest remains,
yet 40% of its plant species occur nowhere else, while many of its
animals and birds are endemic to the region. The legislation is designed
to control plantation farming, logging and settlements. It is an answer
to the prayers of many people over a long period.
Sunday 15th February
Heavenly Father, we pray for all in authority, for heads of state,
ministers, judges, civil servants and local government officers, that
they may please you
In the justice they administer,
In the mercy they display,
In the wisdom of their policies,
In the integrity of their decisions.
This we pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday 16th February
Homebase is to accept no more hardwood garden furniture from Indonesia
as there is no means of knowing whether or not the timber is being
sustainably produced. Over 60% of its wood products are certified
by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably produced and most
come from FSC sources in China or from Malaysian suppliers who are
members of WWF producer groups.
Meanwhile, at home, BioRegional Minimills has received a £90,500
grant to test its ability to produce high quality paper using non-wood
fibres such as straw from hemp, flax, wheat and rice as the raw material
for paper pulp. For more information ring BioRegional Minimills on
020 8404 4885.
Tuesday 17th February
Today the Northwest Renewables Conference takes place at Old Trafford,
Manchester - a free event offering presentations, case studies and
workshops covering a wide range of renewable energy topics including
wind, photovoltaics, biomass, fuel cells and refuse-derived fuel.
For details ring 01257 276176 or visit: envirenergy.org.uk
Wednesday 18th February
The Energy and Environmental Management Conference takes place today,
also at Old Trafford, Manchester, with presentations, case studies
and workshops covering the latest developments in energy-saving, waste
management and environmental best practice. The conference is free.
Details as before.
A visit to www.greenstreet.org.uk will show eight types of home energy
and water efficiency, sustainable materials, waste reduction and health
features, with advice on standards, costs, funding and procurement.
Thursday 19th February
A survey of Britain's thirteen biggest house-builders, commissioned
by WWF, covered their impacts on the environment and society, and
looked at their governance, strategies and risk management. Two companies
- Countryside Properties and The Berkeley came up top with more than
70% each. The companies could have scored better if they had provided
more public information on targets to reduce carbon emissions, to
cut construction waste, and on their health an safety record. Paul
King, director of WWF's One Million Sustainable Homes campaign, said:
"This report should dispel any notion that investors aren't interested
in sustainability. Mismanagemnt of both social and environmental impacts
and risks can cost companies and their investors over the long term."
A new book from the Centre for Alternative Technology called "The
Energy-Saving House" shows how to reduce energy use, both at
the construction stage, at renovation and in daily heating and cooking.
For details ring CAT on 01654 705950.
Friday 20th February
Last month President George Bush gave voice to his aspiration to establish
a base on the Moon and to mount a manned expedition to Mars.
In that same week, Britain's Chief Scientific Officer, Sir David King,
said that climate change was a more serious threat than terrorism
and that the USA had failed to take up the challenge of global warming.
Also, a study by leading international scientists published in "Nature"
warned that climate change could lead to the extinction of a quarter
of the world's species.
Other scientists said that last summer's heatwave, which claimed 35,000
lives in Western Europe, could be a foretaste of things to come.
Yet the USA, which comprises a mere 4% of the world's population,
continues to emit over 20% of climate-changing gases, principally
from the burning of coal, gas and oil, while dreaming of further exploits
Saturday 21st February
Today a conference called "Resource Justice: Cornerstone of the
21st Century" takes place at the Salon des Artes, 191 Queen's
Gate, London SW7 5EU, from 3 to 6 p.m. The keynote speakers are Claire
Heather (National Trust), Satish Kumar (Resurgence) and Wolfgang Sachs
(Wuppertal Institute), after which there will be a discussion of the
issues. Tickets at £5 each include wine. Contact details: 020
8809 2391 or e-mail: email@example.com
Sunday 22nd February
"Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing
stream" (Amos 5.24)
Look mercifully, Lord God, upon your world and heal the sorrows and
suffering of humankind. Save the nations from the lust for money and
power, from racial hatred and jealousy, and from the worship f material
things. Grant that in every land the rule of oppression may be broken
and the cause of justice may triumph, that people everywhere may learn
to serve you in the peace and freedom of your kingdom. (Frank Colquhoun)
Monday 23rd February
Last December President Bush signed the 21st Century Nanotechnology
Research and Development Act, allocating $3.7 billion of state funding
to nanotech development over the next four years. The legislation
contained nothing about the regulation of the industry. Yet scientists
from France's National Centre for Scientific Research have announced
that carbon nano-tubes can easily enter living cells, where they tend
to migrate to the nucleus. Nano-tubes are already incorporated in
car body parts and tennis rackets, and will this year be used in flat-screen
TV sets and are already being turned out in 100-tonne quantities by
Mitsubishi. Pray that the forthcoming publication of a EU policy document
on nanotechnology will be based on the precautionary principle.
Tuesday 24th February
Today, at the Royal Society of Arts, 8 John Adam Street, London, a
conference on Science, Ethics and Religion will be held under the
auspices of the John Ray Initiative, the London Institute of Contemporary
Christianity and the RSA. The keynote speaker will be Holmes Rolston,
winner of the 2003 Templeton Prize for Progress Towards Research or
Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Other speakers include Graham
Ashworth, formerly of Going for Green, Bishop John Oliver, former
Bishop of Hereford, Jonathon Porritt and Sir Ghillean Prance. Tickets
for the conference, which runs from 9.45 to 5.45, are £15 including
lunch. For more information visit www.jri.org.uk
Wednesday 25th February
A report from the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society called
"The Net Effect" details the destructive fishing practices
that are killing thousands of dolphins a year - perhaps as much as
5% of the total each year. Huge nets, often as wide as two football
pitches, pulled by two trawlers at once, cause many deaths. Trials
with "escape hatches" at the top of trawl nets are showing
promising results. Acoustic deterrent devices or "pingers"
are in use in a number of fisheries, but may be displacing dolphins
from their best habitats. The European Commission proposes:
" A limit on the length of driftnets to 2.5 km. in the Baltic
Sea, followed by total prohibition in 2007;
" Compulsory use of "pingers" in fisheries associated
with bycatches of harbour porpoises;
" Compulsory onboard observer monitoring of cetacean bycatches
in specified fisheries and areas of the Celtic Sea, Bay of Biscay
and the Channel.
WDCS believes that management objectives need to be specified, with
the ultimate aim of reducing bycatches to zero.
Thursday 26th February
A WWF/TRAFFIC report on the ivory trade in West Africa shows that
over the last four years the amount of ivory on sale in Lagos has
increased by 14%. The researchers found nearly 2,000 kg. of worked
and raw ivory, representing ivory from about 380 elephants. Much of
the ivory found in West Africa comes from Cameroon, the Central African
Republic, Gabon and Congo. The cost of ivory has gone down by 50%
since 1999, suggesting an increase in supply. The main buyers have
been identified as American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Korean.
Callum Rankine of WWF comments: "Until ivory smugglers are made
an example of in their own country, when caught, this lawless trade
will continue. Strong penalties must be handed out which act as a
Friday 27th February
People all over the world are resisting the car culture by getting
on their bikes. The Critical Mass Bike Ride is a celebration of the
alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents, and the loss of public
spaces and freedoms. Bikers meet at 6 p.m. under Waterloo Bridge for
departure by 6.45. Bring (besides your bike) noise, light, life, leaflets
and enthusiasm! For more information e-mail: cmlondon.enrager.net
Saturday 28th February
Last August, after a three-week chase off Antarctica, a British fisheries
protection ship caught a Uruguayan trawler carrying 85 tonnes of illegally-caught
Patagonian Toothfish worth about A$1 million. The illegal fisheries
of the Southern Ocean are responsible for the deaths of thousands
of albatrosses caught as by-catch. Vastly improved fishery protection
resources are needed to arrest the decline of marine birds and mammals
due to modern fishing methods.
Sunday 29th February
Give us, loving Father, the wisdom so to deal with the things we possess
that they may never possess us. Deliver us from reliance on our own
cleverness in science and technology. Banish our fears as we face
many uncertainties in the 21st century. Keep our feet always on the
path of justice and peace, for the sake of your Son, who died to save
us from our sins.
Sources: The Ecologist; Green Futures; Plant Talk.
For further information and requests for prayer please write or e-mail
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells TN4 OSY
The Organic Way (HDRA)
Understanding Global Issues
For further information and prayer request please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Kent TN4 OSY